Dan Sultan

Dan Sultan Live at The Tanks

It’s a brand new day for Dan Sultan. The last few years have been a bit tough, there’s some baggage in his wake but with a fresh new album “Blackbird” to play, he looks and feels like a man on a mission. Playing at the Tanks on the second show of a twenty two date tour of the country he sure made sparks, clearly lighting up the next level he has moved to. A sell-out crowd welcomed him with excitement. With the album debuting number at 4 in the charts you felt there was real star power in the room.

He’s just come off supporting Bruce Springsteen and it’s no surprise. Though there were soul, blues, gospel and country inflections throughout the show it’s rock’ n’ roll that pumps at the heart of it all. The band set-up was classic rock -a four piece and it felt right. Horns and keys and extra strings were not missed. The rhythm section was from his original band with the most excellent Pete “The Heat” Marin on drums. On guitars -Ash Naylor of Even and Paul Kelly fame. Dan Sultan played a lot of lead electric guitar and he’s pretty damn good, knocking out some grand solos, including one very raunchy psychedelic one the pushed the rock blueprint envelope very nicely. The band was sharp but volatile, centred completely around Sultan and able to vamp and smoulder and build tension -and then just frickin’ erupt!

The set featured a lot of the new album including great new songs Under Your Skin and the rather epic Kimberly Calling which he referred to as a “stadium song”, and it sure was. He did a couple of tender acoustic songs solo one’s that didn’t make the album and played a few of his becoming Aussie classics songs “Old Fitzroy” and “Your Love is Like a Song” that had many singing along. Sultan has a knack of capturing moments with his songs, making oft-used subjects like heartache, desire and loss, look like hi-rez emotional snapshots. And this is what any serious songwriter wants to do. Of course his voice is the thing -big and rich, raging and then crooning, really giving it up and holding nothing back.

The crowd showed their delight and enthusiasm with lots of dancing down the front and a big hoo-haa for an encore. It’s obvious Dan Sultan was having fun, cracking jokes, playing with gusto and standing tall as guitar hero but there’s a winning vulnerability, something of the wounded shaman about him. He feels like he’s living it, moment by moment, out on the edge where there’s tears mingled with the sweat. Though Sultan has the looks, poise and talent of a rock god and is seemly poised to become very big -one hopes he never loses this sense of the underdog and true battler.